; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Random Notes on Decent Drinkers ;

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Random Notes on Decent Drinkers

Over the past year or so I’ve tried a number of teas that really are quite good, but they didn’t yield much creativity for me in terms of writing for this blog. Mostly I write on whatever I think is remarkable or a curiosity. But I’m sure you’ll agree that while we all want very good teas in our collection, we still have many which are more daily drinker teas. Some of these are very enjoyable and still worth noting, at least for myself to remember them.

2012 Yunnan Sourcing Da Qing

This cake is an annual production of “old arbor” gushu. Recent years have received mixed reviews. I had two sessions with this four year old production via mrmopar and like this tea very much. Fruity and floral, still quite green, with large leaves and stems. Rather expansive, not so much a tea high but a nice caffeine/theanine reaction, more than just a lift, expanding body awareness maybe. 2012 was a good year for puerh and it’s not easy finding the good teas from this growing season.

No dry storage issues, beautifully stored. I have had at least a dozen samples from mrmopar’s storage which I’ve covered here on this blog, and was also featured on TeaDB. Mr Mopar lives in Virginia and stores his teas packed into old fridge pumidors with an occasionally running fan and humidity packs as needed. He has been storing tea at least five years. Any doubters about storing tea properly in the west haven’t tried his tea yet. I know he’s invested in the best teas possible and will have a decent stash in the coming years when I plan to pitch a tent in his yard and never leave.

2008 Nannuo Loose Maocha Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company

Picked up a bag of this with a order earlier this year. The page for the listing said “more info coming soon,” but I see that info still wasn’t posted in October and now the tea is no longer on offer. This company is based in the US and sometimes resells white2tea and others. I think I paid $13 for about 50g.

No excuse storage.
As you can see, I have a storage problem. I am now out of storage and am using a vintage pig pitcher to store this tea. Back in the day, open pitchers like this were common in farm houses. Milk is brought to the house in a metal pail where the cream is allowed to rise and then skimmed off. I can buy milk in plastic bags here which are market as a way to take up less room in the landfill. So I could actually use this pitcher if I wanted, but the plastic bags can’t be recycled as plastic milk jugs are, so I just buy milk by the jug.

A big family could easily drink up the milk in this pitcher within a day, so it didn’t need a cover or a lid. I’m using a napkin and rubber band, and have no excuses for this behavior. I can’t recommend this storage option even though I normally recommend stoneware with covers for puerh in dry climates. Just do as I say and not as I do.
Still really green. Maybe it wasn't processed right.
Primarily a hay flavor, nice long leaves. The tea seemed a bit too dry and slightly flat.

Loose leaves were pretty though.
Not my favorite loose tea ever, the next one is more to my taste.

2015 Spring Mannuo Gushu Loose Maocha by Chawangshop

2015 Mannuo Loose
Mannuo area sheng is rather difficult to find as a single tea, so earlier this year I added a double order of this $15/50g to another larger tea order. The dry leaves are huge and this is one of those teas you need a larger gaiwan to appreciate unless you want to break up these lovely leaves, which you don’t.

Stoneware container I made in high school.
I’ve brewed up this tea about three times and just don’t have anything remarkable to say about it. It’s pleasant. The tea has notes of hay and flowers with a nice mouth coat. The tea is still rather green. Need to brew a lot of it to make up for the lack of compression. I combined my two bags into a large crock to preserve the long leaves.

Long leaves.
Loose tea is beautiful, but more than a little of it gets to be a storage issue since loose tea needs so much more space. I noticed that puerhsk now has a Mannuo as well, at a higher price point. Still, with few examples of Mannuo around, it’s worth picking up some this year along with an order.

Only a year in and this one seems to be settling well.
Chawangshop is one of my favorite places for decent drinkers and vintage tea ware at budget prices, and puerhsk usually has very fine tea and teaware for more discriminating tea ware hoarders. Don’t be fooled by the shipping in your cart at Chawangshop, it’s a quote and the final shipping won’t be tallied until the order is packed. The final total always comes in lower than the initial quote.

2015 Poundcake by white2tea

People thought I was either crazy or doing a stunt for the blog when I brewed up all 100g of the tea club butt plug last year. I wasn’t doing either, I simply couldn’t figure out a way to chip anything off of the highly compressed plug of tea without injuring myself. I found the early plug rather wet at the time, and it broke down after eight steeps. I purchased a cake of this and then served it at a tea class, which used up half the cake. This production is sold out now, but a 2016 version is available that I haven't tried.

Revisiting this tea now, the leaves have firmed up quite a bit in a year’s time, and the brew is now a thick golden yellow. I noted sourness in early steeps, probably similar to what Hobbes mentioned in his recent review. Either this tea is starting some sort of funky fermentation stage, or it doesn’t do well dry. I will crock up the tea and see if it is correctable.

Wisconsin workin' men
2015 72 Hours by white2tea

I first sampled this tea about two weeks from pressing in the summer of 2015, and drank it a couple more times during the summer that year. I liked it then, and like it even more now. The tea is now firm and brews up a thick yellow, still sweet but bitter when pushed, this has remarkable longevity. Lots of florals, some vanilla, likely a northern tea but one of the better examples.

72 Hours, or in my case, 96 Hours
I got 24 steeps in a recent session over a period of four days and could have coaxed out even more. This tea is damn good. It's well worth the money, when people write to me asking what to purchase from white2tea, this is one I recommend getting now. I expect it to deepen and develop more complexity. Also nice is the compression is lighter so the leaves are easy to separate intact, better to age in my crock style storage. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one pushes 30 steeps at least someday which makes the price per gram easier on the wallet. If I had extra dough I’d get me another one.

I received a sample of this tea, an odd pale colored chunk that brews up reddish. I think this tea got bamboo-stuffed quite wet and composted a bit, in other words, partially fermented. It’s a raw sheng that got part way to shou probably early on. I liked the smoothness of the early steeps, but after about four steeps, I started to feel a bit queasy. After two more steeps I couldn’t go on. The tea is still quite lively on the tongue. Maybe some humid storage might work out some of the in-between fermentation. I just don’t think it’s ready for me to drink now. I prefer the sold out WMD Mansa, or the WMD Mansa huang pian which is a nice bargain at $24.50.

Rummy Pu Shou by LiquidProust Teas

My friend LP sent me a few samples of his teas, this one among them. I’m not a fan of puerh stuffed in wooden booze kegs. This one smelled very strongly of rum right out of the baggie, which reminded me of my stepmother’s stale rum and coke glass the morning after, and thus nauseatingly of my childhood. I aired it for several months. When I brewed it, the tea retained a slight bit of rum scent which was a bit more pleasant. But the tea tasted mostly like cardboard and didn’t benefit from my airing. Maybe people who like boozy puerh would enjoy it more when fresh.

LP also sent me an old 1990s-ish puerh tea bag, a shou that smelled like my grandmother’s pantry. Brewed it up in an Eric Soule clay teapot. I rather enjoyed this warming drink after rinsing the tea bag well in cold water.

1990s Puerh tea bag, liquidprousttea.
A visiting Mr. B's coffee mug, I ain't claiming that as mine.
A cold water rinse will get rid of any off flavors in shou. The tea was quite strong for about four steeps and petered out, but I liked the powdery grandma smell that comes from long storage. You can fake a booze flavor, but you can’t fake-age granny’s closet. Still, gotta give props to LP, he’s sent out a lot of free tea this year to people new to puerh.

2012 CNNP ShouZhu Fu Zhuan Brick 1000g from tea8hk

Evidence of my insanity.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought a 1 kilo Fu Brick last spring. But I can blame jayinhk and Acupuncturist on Teachat for the idea. I purchased the tea from the seller’s website which is now shut down, but the seller still has items on EBay. The tea has two listings, one at 10% off here.

Good taste for crazy.
The tea arrived with nice golden flowers throughout already and I kept them up over the summer, but they didn’t grow as large as I wanted. I’m still trying to get a nice crusty Fu Brick and am likely to fail in my too-dry climate. 

tea8hk packaged this very well. The tea has the original box
and then a sealed heavy plastic bag. 
And I don’t have any decent storage option for a brick this large. But the tea has a lovely betel nut flavor, totally smooth and drinkable with a dark orange color, and more aging to go. Maybe I should store it in the bathroom.

2016 Misty Peaks

You can hate on me, I don’t let too many morals get in the way of good tea. I really like this single farm tea, it’s not bad at all. The cakes are now in the Great Shrinking and down to 100g this year. I speculated earlier this year that the farm’s tea may have jumped in value, and so Misty Peaks is getting less to sell. A recent marketing email seems to confirm this, as the company recently announced that it will branch out into other teas and tea ware. 

It's still good tea.
I now have three years of this Yiwu-ish tea stored together in the same vintage crock by itself as an experiment. This year’s is quite tasty and mild with not much bitterness, the empty cup has a strong floral and honey aroma. For experimental purposes this tea is ideal, because I am fairly sure this is a single estate tea and can track its development as a crocked tea without other variables interfering. The leaf is quite durable and can be pushed with warmth and humidity. It doesn’t break down in boiling water either.

1993 Zhongcha Menghai Orange Mark from inpursuitoftea.com

I got to taste this beauty in New York and am obsessing over it ever since. This is the most sticky and pungent of aged puerh teas I’ve ever had. By sticky I mean dark syrup and literally sticky on the fingers. Naturally they don’t have enough to sell. Most really aged teas I’ve had are either rather like dry leather, or humid stored. This one was perfect, and what a treat it was in good company. I got my eye on this company now as their website does have a few aged offerings. 

Various Puerh Teas Macha Tea Company, Madison WI.

Likewise, I have my eye on Macha Teahouse in Madison. Wisconsin finally has a puerh teahouse done right. Most people seem to buy matcha. But puerh is served on a bamboo tray with as many gaiwans and refillable hot water teapots as you need. You can sit on a barstool pub-style and knock 'em back, aged and young teas are available. This is exactly how a puerh tea drunk like me wants it. I can watch the matcha buyers drift in and out and they don't know what they are missing. So few tea houses let you do the brewing and make a mess over a bamboo tray. And if you aren't comfortable brewing yourself, Anthony will help you with the brewing.

I did drink all that.
The shop also sells teas from Yunnan Sourcing and white2tea. I got so tea drunk there I don't remember what the hell I drank or where I parked my car. A session is $13 no matter what tea you pick, and I can easily run up a tab. They also serve meat or vegan and gluten-free meals on Fridays and Sundays and bakery every day. I plan to go back and wish I could go there every day. I doubt you'll find a more agreeable puerh tea house in the midwest USA. Definitely check out the photos at the link above if you want to see a pub style tea house done right.

So these were several tea experiences I didn’t get much time to write about over the year. I haven’t yet formed any conclusions overall on the new teas this year, so many are still too green and wet. I also had a very wet summer where I live, unusually so and my teas are now in great condition. Over the winter I plan to continue drinking through my stash to check on various teas. In fact I still have teas I’ve never tried, like the 2015 Pin which many people say tastes quite good now. I’m betting on 2016 Head as one I will like when it settles. I also have some wet stored teas that required months of airing and need to be sampled as well. The delight of a puerh collection is tasting through and enjoying them like fine wine and whiskey in all stages of development.

1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth, Macha is where I picked up my puerh addiction, albeit at the old location. They're great.